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Monday, December 12, 2011

Nogs, Grogs, Punch and Tea

Mulled wine has been lauded since the 5th century C.E. for its warming qualities. To mull means to “heat and spice.” Could it be from a Middle English word, mollen, which means “to moisten” or “to crumble”? Mulled wine and beer used to be heated by plunging a red hot poker from the fire into the liquid.

Medieval people enjoyed Ypocras/Hipocris/Hippocras, a drink named after Hippocrates, and generally accepted as a magical elixir. Henry III had two sesters of wine with zedoary (an herb from India and Indonesia, which tastes like ginger), two with nutmeg, and two with cubebs (a seasoning from India which is kind of like pepper) as part of his Christmas cellar of 1244. Here is a recipe for Ypocras.

• 1 bottle sweet red or white wine
• 1-2 cups honey
• 1 T each of ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, white pepper, cloves, nutmeg, and caraway seeds
• A cheesecloth
Bring the wine and honey close to the boil in a pan, skimming off the scum as it rises to the surface. Taste and add more honey to sweeten, if desired. Take off the heat and stir in the spices. Leave it to sit for 24 hours, while covered. During this time the spices will form a thick residue at the bottom of the pan. Now, using a ladle, decant the wine into a second container, straining it through 2-3 layers of cheesecloth, while trying to leave as much of the spice residue in the pan as possible. Store for 1 month before serving—the older it is, the better it tastes!

By the 1550s, recipes for mulling Clarrey/clarree/claree appeared. Both are mentioned in Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Merchant’s Tale. The word comes from the Latin vinum claratum. Here is a recipe for Clarrey:

• 1 bottle inexpensive, sweet white wine
• 1-2 cups honey
• 1 T each of cinnamon, galingale (substitute ginger), and cardamom
• 1 t white pepper
• 1 cheesecloth
Bring the wine and honey close to the boil, then reduce the heat and skim off the scum as it rises. Taste and add honey for sweetness as required. Remove from the heat, stir in all of the spices, and then cover and allow to sit for 24 hours. As with the Ypocras, after this time you will need to use a ladle to transfer the liquid into another container, passing it through a strainer lined with 2-3 layers of cheesecloth to remove the spices. Again, leave behind as much as possible of the spice residue that will have
formed in the bottom of the pan. Bottle it and store for 1 month before serving. A good Clarrey is one that has been aged for a year or even longer.

Bishop’s punch—known as “bischopswyn”—is in some countries drunk on December 6th for St Nicholas’ Day. Here is a recipe.

Bishop’s Wine
• 1 bottle red wine
• 1 orange stuck with cloves
• 1 cinnamon stick
• Peel of 1 lemon
• Sugar to taste
Place the clove-stuck orange in a large pan; add the red wine and leave to steep for half a day. During this time the wine will take on the flavours of the orange and cloves. Then you need to add the other ingredients together and simply warm the whole lot through half an hour before serving.

Glögg is the Scandinavian version of mulled wine and is drunk in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, and Estonia, and is served with raisins, almonds, and gingerbread biscuits. Here is a version of glögg.

• 1 bottle red wine
• 25 g / 1 oz dried orange zest
• 25g / 1 oz cinnamon sticks
• 20 cardamom seeds
• 12 cloves
• 200 g / 8 oz blanched almonds
• 200 g / 8 oz raisins
• 225 g / ½ lb brown sugar
• 70 mL / 2 ½ fl oz brandy
• A cheesecloth
Bring the wine close to the boil in a pot. Put the orange, cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves in the cheesecloth, tie it into a bundle and boil it in the pot for 15 mins. Add the almonds and raisins, and cook for another 15 mins, before moving the pan from the heat. Add the brown sugar and brandy, then stir them in. Then remove the spice bundle. Serve hot.

Wassail comes from the Old English waes hael, which means “be whole,” or “be healthy.” In Saxon times, the lord of the manor would shout the greeting. The others would respond with drinc hael. Then the lord would take a swig from a large wooden bowl (the wassail bowl or cup) before passing it to the next most senior member of the household. By Tudor times, wassailers had become a menace. The threat from “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” (“we won’t go until we get some”) had sinister undertones. The crab apples from Shakespeare show the importance of apples in Wassail. On Twelfth Night, the Wassail was held outside around the apple trees. In more recent times, this was celebrated by people discharging their shotguns into the air. In Surrey, the apple tree trunks were whipped! Here is a version of Wassail and the delightfully-named Lamb’s Wooll, which would have been drunk by the well-to-do in Shakespeare’s England.

• 6 cups ale
• 1 cup sugar
• Pinch of cinnamon
• Pinch of ginger
• Pinch of cloves
• Pinch of nutmeg
• 6 beaten eggs
• 4 roasted apples
Heat the ale in a saucepan, add the sugar and spices and bring almost to the boil. Take it off the heat and gradually add a little of the hot mixture to the beaten eggs. Return it to the saucepan and cook, this time stirring constantly until the mixture has thickened slightly. Put the roasted apples in a punch bowl (which must be heat proof) and pour the mixture over them.

Lamb’s Wooll
• 6 bottles brown ale
• 1 cup sherry
• 450 g / 1 lb light brown sugar
• 2 roasted apples, sliced
• 1 lemon, sliced
• ½ t ginger
• ½ t cinnamon
• ½ a nutmeg
• 2 slices toasted white bread
Heat one bottle of ale. Put the sugar in a large heat-proof bowl and stir well. Grate the half a nutmeg into the sugar-ale mixture, add cinnamon and ginger, then the sherry and the rest of the ale. Leave to stand for several hours. Before serving, finish it off with the sliced lemon and apples and float pieces of the toasted bread on top.

Jane Austen’s World blog mentions syllabub, a concoction of cream and alcohol that resembles egg nog. Originally it was created by milking a cow directly into a bowl of hot wassail. The idea was to let the mixture sit and settle for an hour, so that the newly-milked, er, milk could form a solid crust. With the possible addition of more cream on top of that, the syllabub could be consumed, the solid portion with a spoon and the liquid portion drunk as normal. (Samuel Pepys mentioned syllabub on at least three occasions in his diary.) Gradually, throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, it came to be a more solid entity, mixing sherry or brandy, sugar, lemon, nutmeg, and double cream.

Here is an 18th century recipe for syllabub from John Francis Collingwood and John Woollams.

A Syllabub Under a Cow

Having put a bottle of red or white wine, ale or cyder, into a China bowl, sweeten it with sugar, and grate in some nutmeg. Then hold it under the cow, and milk into it until it has a fine froth on the top. Strew over it a handful of currants cleaned, washed, and picked, and plumbed before the fire.

Pepys’ diary on syllabub

Historic Egg Nog Recipes from US of yore

Synonymous with a Victorian Christmas is Smoking Bishop. In his notes for the 1907 edition of A Christmas Carol E. Gordon Browne describes this Christmas punch:

“The drink is made by pouring red wine, either hot or cold, upon ripe bitter oranges. The liquor is heated or 'mulled' in a vessel with a long funnel, which could be pushed far down into the fire. Sugar and spices (chiefly cloves, star anise, and cinnamon) are added according to taste. It is sometimes called 'purple wine' and received the name 'Bishop' from its colour.”

Here are some other wintry concoctions.

Mulled Cider
• 1 L / 2 pints still cider
• 2 small eating apples
• 4 cloves
• 140 mL / ¼ pt water
• 50 g / 2 oz soft brown sugar
• 1 cinnamon stick
• 1 t ground ginger
• 2 tangerines
Stick the apples and two of the cloves each and then bake. Heat the cider and, at the same time, heat the other ingredients (minus the orange) until all the sugar has dissolved and then simmer for 5 mins. Place the baked apples and tangerine pieces in a heat-proof punch bowl, strain the spiced water into it and lastly add the hot

Old-fashioned rum with a twist
For each drink:
• 1 fl oz honey or golden syrup
• 2 fl oz aged rum
• Ice cubes
• 1 fresh mint leaf
• Pared lime rind, to garnish
Put the honey and 1 T rum in a Rocks glass. Stir the mixture until the honey has melted into the rum. Add the ice cube and mint leaf and stir until the ice has nearly melted. Add another T of rum and another ice cube. Stir until the ice cube has partly melted. Add the rest of the rum and 1 more ice cube. Stir the drink 15 times or so and then fill the glass to the top with ice cubes. Take a piece of pared lime rind, crack it over the glass to release the oils from the skin, and serve.

Spiced fruit cocktail
For each drink:
• 1 pear
• 1 tsp plum jam
• 1
pinch ground cinnamon
• 2 fl oz Cognac
• 2 fl oz apple juice
• Ice
• A few drops lemon juice
Peel and slice the pear and place in the
bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add the plum jam and ground cinnamon and muddle
down (ie take the handle of a wooden spoon to crush the hard ingredients). Add
Cognac, apple juice, and some ice. Shake and strain the mixture, add a few drops
of lemon juice, and serve.

Hot pear cup
Cut ½ apple into slices and stud each slice with a couple of cloves. Place the slices in a large pan, add 1 ¾ cups pear cider, 1 vanilla pod, 1 large piece of pared lemon rind, 5 fl oz brandy, 1 cinnamon stick, 2 T of honey, and bring to the boil. Simmer gently for 10 mins then serve in four glasses.

Winter whisky sour
Stud 4 lemon slices with 3 cloves each. Place in a pan with 1 piece of pared lemon rind, 2 tablespoons of maple syrup, and 14 fl oz water. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and leave to infuse for 5 mins. Divide 4 fl oz whisky and the 4 lemon slices between 4 glasses. Discard the lemon rind, add the infused water, and serve.

Here is a Teetotal Wassail.

A Teetotal Wassail
• 3 L / 6 pts apple juice
• 1 ½ L / 3 pints peach juice
• ½ cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
• 1 large orange
• Cloves
• 6 cinnamon sticks
Stick the orange with whole cloves (roughly half an inch apart) and bake it in the oven. After half an hour take it out and puncture it in several places with a fork. Place the orange with the other ingredients in a large pot and cover. Bring the mixture to the boil before simmering for half an hour. Pour the hot mixture into your heat-proof punch bowl, adding the orange and cinnamon sticks. (This recipe makes around 30 servings).

And a boozy Christmas dessert.

Beaumes-de-Venise Jelly
• 700 mL / 1 ¼ pt Muscat de Beaumes de Venise or other sweet dessert wine
• Gelatine powder
• 50g / 2 oz caster sugar
Pour half of wine into a small pan, sprinkle over powdered gelatine and allow to soak for a few minutes until spongy. Stir in the sugar. Heat the mixture without allowing it to boil, stirring until the gelatine has dissolved completely. Remove from the heat, stirring the rest of the wine. Cool.
Pour the cool, but still liquid, jelly into wetted individual glasses and chill until firm.

Jane Austen’s World Blog.

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